Bankrate’s CardMatch tool may provide personalized offers you can’t get through the issuer for some cards, but applying directly through the issuer may present other offers. It always pays to do your research and decide which potential offer values match your spending habits.
Chase Freedom Unlimited® review
Why you can trust Bankrate
At Bankrate, we have a mission to demystify the credit cards industry — regardless or where you are in your journey — and make it one you can navigate with confidence. Our team is full of a diverse range of experts from credit card pros to data analysts and, most importantly, people who shop for credit cards just like you. With this combination of expertise and perspectives, we keep close tabs on the credit card industry year-round to:
- Meet you wherever you are in your credit card journey to guide your information search and help you understand your options.
- Consistently provide up-to-date, reliable market information so you\'re well-equipped to make confident decisions.
- Reduce industry jargon so you get the clearest form of information possible, so you can make the right decision for you.
At Bankrate, we focus on the points consumers care about most: rewards, welcome offers and bonuses, APR, and overall customer experience. Any issuers discussed on our site are vetted based on the value they provide to consumers at each of these levels. At each step of the way, we fact-check ourselves to prioritize accuracy so we can continue to be here for your every next.
Bankrate follows a strict editorial policy, so you can trust that we’re putting your interests first. Our award-winning editors and reporters create honest and accurate content to help you make the right financial decisions.
We value your trust. Our mission is to provide readers with accurate and unbiased information, and we have editorial standards in place to ensure that happens. Our editors and reporters thoroughly fact-check editorial content to ensure the information you’re reading is accurate. We maintain a firewall between our advertisers and our editorial team. Our editorial team does not receive direct compensation from our advertisers.
Bankrate’s editorial team writes on behalf of YOU – the reader. Our goal is to give you the best advice to help you make smart personal finance decisions. We follow strict guidelines to ensure that our editorial content is not influenced by advertisers. Our editorial team receives no direct compensation from advertisers, and our content is thoroughly fact-checked to ensure accuracy. So, whether you’re reading an article or a review, you can trust that you’re getting credible and dependable information.
How We Make Money
You have money questions. Bankrate has answers. Our experts have been helping you master your money for over four decades. We continually strive to provide consumers with the expert advice and tools needed to succeed throughout life’s financial journey.
Bankrate follows a strict editorial policy, so you can trust that our content is honest and accurate. Our award-winning editors and reporters create honest and accurate content to help you make the right financial decisions. The content created by our editorial staff is objective, factual, and not influenced by our advertisers.
We’re transparent about how we are able to bring quality content, competitive rates, and useful tools to you by explaining how we make money.
Bankrate.com is an independent, advertising-supported publisher and comparison service. We are compensated in exchange for placement of sponsored products and, services, or by you clicking on certain links posted on our site. Therefore, this compensation may impact how, where and in what order products appear within listing categories. Other factors, such as our own proprietary website rules and whether a product is offered in your area or at your self-selected credit score range can also impact how and where products appear on this site. While we strive to provide a wide range offers, Bankrate does not include information about every financial or credit product or service.
Coverage.com, LLC is a licensed insurance producer (NPN: 19966249). Coverage.com services are only available in states where it is licensed. Coverage.com may not offer insurance coverage in all states or scenarios. All insurance products are governed by the terms in the applicable insurance policy, and all related decisions (such as approval for coverage, premiums, commissions and fees) and policy obligations are the sole responsibility of the underwriting insurer. The information on this site does not modify any insurance policy terms in any way.
Chase Freedom Unlimited® Overview
The Chase Freedom Unlimited® has long been a favorite among fans of cash back credit cards, but the card may now hold even greater appeal for rewards-savvy cardholders looking to get started with Chase Ultimate Rewards on travel purchased through the Ultimate Rewards portal, as well as on dining and drugstore purchases. Meanwhile, the 1.5 percent cash back rate on general purchases and valuable perks like travel cancellation/interruption insurance and DoorDash DashPass make the card worth holding onto for budding travelers and low-maintenance cash back enthusiasts alike.
Just keep in mind that you’ll need excellent credit to qualify or prequalify, and, although the card offers a solid average cash back rate, you’ll get the most value out of your rewards when you pair the Freedom Unlimited with a higher-tier Chase travel credit card.
What are the pros and cons?
- You’ll only get 5 percent back on travel if you book through the Ultimate Rewards portal
- The intro 3 percent balance transfer fee ($5 minimum) increases to 5 percent ($5 minimum) for transfers after your first 60 days
- The first-year 1.5 percent reward rate boost to all cash back bonus category (on up to $20,000 in combined purchases) isn’t likely to be as valuable for average spenders as the previous first-year offer
A deeper look into the current card offer
- Rewards Rate: 5 percent cash back on Lyft purchases (through March 2025); 5 percent cash back on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards; 3 percent cash back on dining; 3 percent cash back on drugstore purchases; 1.5 percent cash back on all other purchases
- Welcome Offer: Earn an additional 1.5 percent cash back on top of all purchases’ original cash back rate (on up to $20,000) for the first year (exclusive offer through Bankrate)
- Annual Fee: $0
- Purchase Intro APR: 0 percent for 15 months
- Balance Transfer Intro APR: 0 percent for 15 months (Intro Balance Transfer Fee: $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater in the first 60 days)
- Regular APR: 16.49 percent to 25.24 percent (variable)
Current welcome offer
By applying through Bankrate or our CardMatch pre-approval tool, all of your rewards rates will be boosted by an additional 1.5 percent cash back during your first year (on up to $20,000 in combined purchases)—meaning you’ll earn 3 percent to 6.5 percent on all purchases, based on your bonus category:
- 5 percent back on Chase Ultimate Rewards travel
- 5 percent back on restaurant, eligible takeout and delivery purchases
- 5 percent back on drugstore purchases
- 3 percent on all other purchases
This could be incredibly rewarding for big spenders since maxing out the $20,000 spending limit would rake in $300 of cash back—more than the standard $200 bonus for spending $500 on purchases in the first three months that the Chase Freedom Flex℠ (its sibling card) and many other no annual fee cash back cards provide. Granted, the Freedom Unlimited imposes a longer time commitment and higher eventual spending requirement, but the 1.5 percent rewards rate boost is one of the most lucrative first-year offers in its class if it already aligns with your spending.
It’s an even a better deal if your budget is a bit more modest. We estimate the average cardholder spends about $15,900 per year, which would still net you an additional $238 on top of your normal cash back with the overarching 1.5 percent rewards boost.
However, the card’s previous offer stacked 5 percent cash back at grocery stores (excluding Walmart and Target) on up to $12,000 in purchases during your first year. Based on the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ (BLS) latest Consumer Expenditures report data, you would have earned a stellar $247 (calculated from the average $4,942 grocery spend in 2020) from the limited-time grocery store category alone.
The current offer still delivers a generous cash back haul well worth considering compared to rival cards’ offerings, but Chase’s new offer, albeit unique, may be a step down from what they’ve presented in the past for some cardholders.
With its recent refresh, the Chase Freedom Unlimited stands out as one of the most valuable no-annual-fee cash back cards on the market. In fact, the Freedom Unlimited actually earns Chase Ultimate Rewards points that can be redeemed for cash back at a 1:1 rate—which makes the Freedom Unlimited uniquely valuable as a beginner’s rewards credit card if you’re looking to travel with a premium Chase card down the road.
How you earn
The Freedom Unlimited earns 5 percent cash back on all travel purchased via the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal and on Lyft purchases (through March 2025), 3 percent back on dining (including eligible takeout and delivery purchases) and 3 percent back at drugstores. Those bonus categories are in addition to the unlimited 1.5 percent cash back the card earns on all other purchases.
This combination of a solid base cash back rate and a generous bonus cash back rate in multiple categories makes the Freedom Unlimited a very valuable no-annual-fee credit card and a great entry point for frequent travelers who want to get started with credit card rewards.
How to redeem
The Chase Freedom Unlimited offers a ton of choices for how you can redeem your rewards. You can opt for cash back in the form of a statement credit or direct deposit, redeem for travel or gift cards or shop online at Amazon.com. Like many other credit cards, you can also redeem your rewards for charitable contributions (which currently have a 25 percent boost in value).
You can also combine your rewards with a premium Ultimate Rewards card, like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, Chase Sapphire Reserve® or Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card to enjoy additional flexibility, such as the ability to move your rewards to one of Chase’s transfer partners at a 1:1 ratio.
How much are the rewards worth?
The value of Chase Freedom Unlimited rewards will vary depending on how you choose to redeem them. Here’s a look at what sort of value you can expect on average with each redemption method:
- Cash back (statement credit or deposit): 1 cent
- Travel: 1 cent
- Gift cards: 1 cent
- Apple purchases: 1 cent
- Amazon.com purchases: 0.8 cents
- Charitable contributions: 1.25 cents
If you have a premium Ultimate Rewards card, you can get even more value out of your points: Combine your rewards with the Sapphire Preferred or Ink Business Preferred cards and redeem for travel through the Ultimate Rewards portal and you’ll enjoy a value of 1.25 cents per point, a 25 percent increase versus the value you’d get redeeming for cash back. It’s even better with the Sapphire Reserve, as your points are worth 1.5 cents each when redeemed for travel through the Ultimate Rewards portal.
Other cardholder benefits
While the Chase Freedom Unlimited card’s perks can’t compete with those you’ll find on a luxury travel card like the Sapphire Reserve, the card still offers a number of quality consumer benefits that are stellar for a no annual fee card. Here are a few standouts:
Complimentary DashPass subscription
A great complement to the Freedom Unlimited card’s bonus rewards on dining purchases, DashPass is a subscription service from the popular food delivery company DoorDash that gets you unlimited deliveries for a $0 delivery fee on orders over $12. The Freedom Unlimited comes with three months of free DashPass membership, after which—if you don’t cancel beforehand—you’re automatically enrolled in DashPass for 50 percent off the monthly rate (typically $9.99 per month) for the next nine months. Make sure you’re eligible by activating before Dec. 31, 2024.
Purchase protection and extended warranty coverage
If something you bought with the card is damaged or stolen within 120 days of your purchase, the Freedom Unlimited covers the cost up to $500 per claim and $50,000 per account. Plus, eligible U.S. manufacturer’s warranties of three years or less on items you purchase with the card are extended by a year.
Trip cancellation and interruption insurance
Trip cancellation and interruption insurance are prized perks when travel looks uncertain. What’s more, you typically only find this level of coverage with travel cards carrying a hefty annual fee. If your trip is canceled or cut short due to sickness, severe weather or other covered circumstances, you can be reimbursed up to $1,500 per person and $6,000 per trip for prepaid tickets and non-refundable passenger fares.
Chase Pay Yourself Back
As of last October, Chase extended the Pay Yourself Back tool to the Chase Freedom card series, which can make your rewards a force for good. Pay Yourself Back lets you use points to cover purchases you’ve made within the last 90 days with a 25 to 50 percent value boost.
At this time, the Freedom Unlimited can use Pay Yourself Back to cover charitable donations to 12 select organizations at 1.25 cents-per-point rate (until Dec. 31, 2022).
Rates and Fees
Luckily, the Chase Freedom Unlimited doesn’t charge many fees. Assuming you pay your balance on time and in full, it costs nothing to carry the card.
- Annual fee: The Freedom Unlimited makes for a great all-purpose rewards card because with no annual fee to factor in, you won’t have to worry about whether the card’s perks or rewards justify its cost. Instead, simply keep the Chase 5/24 rule in mind and decide whether the card is worth the credit ding that comes from a hard pull.
- APR: Freedom Unlimited offers a fairly wide range of potential APRs. Depending on your credit history, you’ll be assigned a variable APR between 16.49 percent and 25.24 percent. While the low end is a bit lower than the current average credit card interest rate, the high end is nearly 40 percent higher than the average APR.
- Intro APR: The Freedom Unlimited doubles as a solid zero-interest card with a respectable 15-month 0 percent intro APR on both purchases and balance transfers (the ongoing variable APR begins afterward).
- Foreign transaction fee: One of the most glaring negatives of the Freedom Unlimited is its foreign transaction fee. If you use the card abroad, you’ll be charged an additional 3 percent of the purchase amount for each transaction. If you frequently travel overseas, you’ll want to use a no-foreign-transaction-fee credit card.
- Balance transfer fee: If you take advantage of the Freedom Unlimited’s introductory APR on balance transfers, you’ll take on an introductory balance transfer of 3 percent or $5, whichever is greater. This is a pretty standard fee, but you should act quickly since waiting to transfer any balances to the Freedom Unlimited after your first 60 days will incur a 5 percent balance transfer fee ($5 minimum).
First-year card value vs. ongoing value
Although the Chase Freedom Unlimited doesn’t come with as many valuable perks or credits as Chase’s premium cards, its additional bonus categories still provide a considerable value beyond the weight of your first year’s intro offers. Compared to “standard” flat-rate cash back cards that typically earn 1.5 percent on all purchases, such as the Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card, the Freedom Unlimited can rake in much more. By our estimates, a typical year with the Quicksilver could earn you around $238, while the Freedom Unlimited may collect about $35 on the same budget.
You can stretch your value even further with a Chase Ultimate Rewards card like the Sapphire Reserve. The Reserve card’s 50 percent bonus redemption value can turn your $353 worth of cash back into approximately $529 toward travel through Chase. That’s an excellent value considering there is no annual fee to recoup with the Freedom Unlimited.
|Benefits and Costs||First-year value||Ongoing value (no welcome offers)|
|Welcome offers||+$238.50 (earned from the 1.5 percent cash back boost on the average cardholder’s estimated $15,900 yearly spend)||N/A|
|Perks (of monetary value)||+$74.92 (DoorDash DashPass offer)||N/A|
*Based on the following estimates for annual expenditures by category: groceries ($4,600); dining ($3,500); household utilities, fuels and public services ($4,000); household supplies, furnishings and home improvement ($2,800); apparel and services and department stores ($1,800); gas and gas stations ($2,000); transit and ride-shares ($800); entertainment ($3,000); personal care products and services, household operations and other miscellaneous spending ($3,300); travel ($2,000); pharmacies and drugstores ($1,300); online shopping ($1,800).
How the Chase Freedom Unlimited compares to other cash back cards
A lot of cash back credit cards are on the market today, and most cards in this niche do not charge an annual fee. However, some cards stand out due to the various benefits they offer or for their lucrative initial bonuses.
Chase Freedom Unlimited vs. Blue Cash Preferred from American Express
The Chase Freedom Unlimited competes well against the Blue Cash Preferred from American Express, especially during its first year. Even without the welcome bonus boost, its rewards rates are higher than the Preferred’s in certain categories, such as drugstore purchases (Chase base at 5 percent versus Blue Cash’s 3 percent) and general purchases (3 percent for Freedom Unlimited d 1 percent for the Preferred).
However, the Freedom Unlimited has a few drawbacks. The second-year value takes a steep drop. On top of that, one of the highest rewards categories is for any travel booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards portal, which can be a drawback for some.
Meanwhile, the Blue Cash Preferred has higher rates on more common categories with grocery stores and streaming services both being at 6 percent. The Blue Cash Preferred also has an advantage with its traditional welcome bonus of $350 when you spend $3,000 within the first 6 months beats out the Unlimited’s boosted value, which goes up to an extra $300 when you max the spending limit of $20,000. The biggest drawback could be the $95 annual fee but that easily balanced itself out with the premium perks and protections.
In the end, each card fits different types of cardholders. With its focus on travel and dining, the Chase Freedom Unlimited is a great card for the frequent flyer while the Blue Cash Preferred is more geared towards families.
Chase Freedom Unlimited vs. Citi Double Cash Card
For those who don’t want to worry about categories, a flat-rate cash back card may be the solution. The Citi Double Cash card offers 2 percent cash back on all purchases (1 percent as you buy, 1 percent when you pay for your purchase). This is handy if you don’t want to worry about making the most out of certain categories.
Similar to the Chase Freedom Unlimited, there’s no limit to the cash back you can earn and both have no annual fee. However, while the Citi Double cash can tote a better APR (16.24 percent to 26.24 percent, variable), the Chase Freedom has a 0 intro APR offer on both purchases and balance transfers (16.49 percent to 25.24 percent) while Citi Double Cash only has an intro APR on balance transfers.
Even if you want a card where you don’t have to think about earning cash back, the Chase Freedom Unlimited would be more lucrative.
Best cards to pair with the Chase Freedom Unlimited
While you can pair the Chase Freedom Unlimited with any number of rewards credit cards that offer different perks or rewards categories, it’s wise to pair this card with another premier Chase credit card if you want to travel—particularly the Sapphire Reserve or Preferred.
You can pool all your points in one Chase Ultimate Rewards account for maximum redemption value and can even pool points with a spouse or partner who lives at the same address, as well as with any Chase business credit card accounts you might have.
Pairing with the Reserve or Preferred also gives you the option of transferring points to popular Chase airline and hotel partners like Southwest Rapid Rewards, United MileagePlus, British Airways, Marriott Bonvoy and IHG Rewards.
As a reminder, if you have both the Freedom Unlimited and Reserve, you can enjoy extra value when you redeem points for travel through the Chase portal (with the Reserve offering a 50 percent higher point value when you redeem this way—the Preferred offers a 25 percent boost).
Another popular pairing choice is the Freedom Flex for its 5 percent rotating quarterly categories (on up to $1,500 per quarter; must be activated quarterly). But rather than choosing either the Freedom Flex or the Sapphire Reserve, we also recommend pairing all three together. In fact, this combo won the “Best credit cards for stacking” title in our 2022 Bankrate Awards rankings since the total annual fee is only $550 across all three cards—less than rival card combos—and the pairing offers a better category scope, redemption option pool and rewards value potential than competing stacks.
Bankrate’s Take: Is the Chase Freedom Unlimited worth it?
The Chase Freedom Unlimited should be an exceptional deal for anyone who wants to earn flexible rewards without an annual fee. It’s hard to beat the card’s generous welcome bonus and ongoing rewards, particularly given that most cards that offer bonus cash back in specific spending categories offer just 1 percent back on general purchases.
Plus, the benefits are excellent for what you typically find among no-annual-fee cards. The trip cancellation/interruption insurance is a staple among premium travel cards, which gives the Freedom Unlimited card great ongoing value beyond its stellar first-year potential.
You also have myriad options for redeeming your rewards, whether you prefer cash back or travel. If you also have (or would consider getting) the Chase Sapphire Reserve and might want to pool points for future travel, that’s even better, as you’ll enjoy a 50 percent boost in point value when you redeem through Chase’s travel portal.